The Parliamentary standing committee has asked the NAAC to re-look the rule of levying Rs 6 lakh as assessment fee to legal education institutions.
Anu Parthiban | February 8, 2024 | 01:28 PM IST
NEW DELHI: The Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice recommended that the powers of Bar Council of India (BCI) should be limited to the extent of acquiring basic eligibility for practicing at the Bar. The committee also suggested uniform curriculum in all law colleges, mandatory two-months apprenticeship and more.
The committee chaired by Sushil Kumar Modi, MP, Rajya Sabha, presented its 142nd report on the Subject - "Strengthening Legal Education in view of emerging challenges before the Legal Profession". The report was presented to redesign the legal curriculum to enable the development of skills required for pursuing diverse legal professions and not just courtroom practice.
Unlike the Advocates Act, 1961, which was enacted with a limited view, the legal profession over the years has developed and is not just confined to a limited role of lawyers working in courtrooms but beyond. In this regard, the committee recommended setting up of an independent Authority, the National Council for Legal Education and Research under the proposed Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) to deal with all aspects of legal education.
“There is no sense in the BCI having regulatory powers over the entire spectrum of legal education. Further, the BCI has neither power nor expertise to meet the challenges of the ever changing globalized world. This view has also been expounded by the National Knowledge Commission. Also there is a near unanimity amongst all
the expert witnesses who appeared before the Committee, on this particular issue,” the committee in its report said.
It recommended that the regulatory functions related to higher education in law, which are currently under the BCI, and which are not related directly to practice at the Bar should be entrusted to an independent Authority, the National Council for Legal Education and Research.
Several stakeholders also raised concerns over the manner in which the BCI inspects and grants recognition to colleges and stated that it has led to “a reckless proliferation of substandard law colleges in the country”.
It has directed the BCI to take urgent and effective measures to ensure the quality and excellence of legal education and profession in the country.
Law colleges and universities in India adopt different curriculum and syllabus as prescribed by the affiliated colleges creating “unevenness” among law graduates. This also leads to difficulty in the hiring of qualified faculties in many law schools.
Keeping in view the challenges, the committee has prescribed a uniform curriculum for all undergraduate (UG) law courses, LLB, and redefining BCI’s role. For PG law courses, it said “uniform curriculum should be laid by an independent Authority as recommended by the Committee”.
The experts also directed the universities and BCI to make a two months apprenticeship mandatory for UG courses for getting enrolled as an advocate. It has also suggested that students working as an intern under seniors should be given stipends. Further, it asked the commission to incorporate practical training programmes like moot court competitions to enhance oral advocacy and critical thinking skills.
“Topics such as law and medicine, sports law, energy law, tech law/cyber law, commercial and investment arbitrations, securities law, telecom laws, banking laws must not only be included but must be given mandatory status as the interdisciplinary subjects,” it added.
It was observed that several law colleges, including National Law Universities (NLUs), have not been implementing the reservation policy while granting admission. P Wilson, a committee member, said he has been writing letters to all the chancellors of the National Law Universities highlighting the issue and requesting implementation of reservations in All India Seats, as per Government of India policy. However, the issue still persists.
Asking universities to rigorously adhere to the reservation policy, it recommended BCI to oversee the implementation and withdraw the recognition granted if they fail to follow the rules.
Among other recommendations, the committee has also asked the NAAC to re-look the rule of levying Rs 6 lakh as assessment fee to legal education institutions.
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